Andreas Glaeser                                          

© Andreas Glaeser, 2009-2010

Personal background  


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I was born and schooled in Tübingen, an old German university town prettily draped over a hill between the Neckar river and the Ammer creek. The latter connects the town upstream to the wine growing village of Unterjesingen where I actually lived. The region lies in the heart of the Swabian lowlands basking comfortably between the Jura mountains to the east and the Black Forest to the west. I attended Kepler-Gymnasium and began my studies of economics and philosophy (the one to get me a job, the other out of love) at Eberhard-Karls University in my home town. I graduated with an MA in economics with a concentration on quantitative methods and development economics (with a regional concentration on Southeast Asia) in 1989 with the intention to go on with a PhD in philosophy. When I began my studies I wanted to save the world as an employee of a development agency. However, I became totally disenchanted with this idea when I lived in Bangkok to do research for my planned MA thesis on the effects of protectionist measures in Europe, the US and Japan on the income level of central Thai rice farmers. Witnessing the neocolonial lifestyle of employees of international organizations first hand shocked me back into academia all the way into philosophy’s ivory tower.


Yet, in Thailand I had also for the first time an opportunity to read Max Weber, both his Protestant Ethic and its companion study on Hinduism and Buddhism. This was a transforming experience. With Weber I had finally found a model for the kind of social science that I found deeply engaging. A McCloy Scholarship afforded me with the wonderful opportunity to study for two years at Harvard, where I then hastened to take courses in anthropology and sociology. Between these disciplines, sociology won out because I loved its historical depth, and at least in its classic European embodiment its proximity to philosophy. Sociology also appeared more practical to me because I eventually wanted to return to Europe where the job market for sociologists seemed better than for anthropologists. However, I hung on to anthropology because its contemporary version had to teach me so much more about culture and places like Thailand than contemporary sociology did. I also found it so much more open to contemporary philosophy than sociology. In the end, my dissertation committee was half composed of sociologists and half of anthropologists: Theda Skocpol, Orlando Patterson (both sociology), Sally Falk Moore and Michael Herzfeld (both anthropology). Since I worked ethnographically, the anthropologists assumed the driving seat with Sally if not de jure than certainly de facto at the helm of my committee. I graduated in November 1997 and took my first academic job at Chicago in July 1998.


Conference Bio:


Andreas Glaeser is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Chicago. He works in the hermeneutic tradition of the social sciences eager to engage empirical work and theory development in a dialectical process. In this spirit his first book Divided in Unity: Identity, Germany and the Berlin Police (Chicago: 2000) develops a theory of identity formation processes while exploring the reasons why east and west Germans find it so hard to understand each other after political unification. His second book Political Epistemics: The Secret Police, the Opposition and the End of East German Socialism (Chicago: 2010) formulates a hermeneutic, knowledge-centric institutionalism to account for the dissolution of socialism in East Germany. His current research activities center around three topics: First a sociology of liberation which aims to bring a normative perspective back into the social sciences; second a study on the differences of social imaginaries across history and cultures; and third, the dynamics of economic knowledge making in the context of bubble economies.